Activity time: 35 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Handout 5: Couple Covenant Worksheet (already in participants' folders)
- Pens or pencils (one per participant)
- Tables or hard surfaces for writing
Preparation for Activity
- Set up tables, or find books or other hard surfaces for writing.
Description of Activity
Explain that the Principled Commitment program offers an opportunity for couples to reaffirm, expand, or enhance the covenants they may have already made together.
Ask participants to pair up with their spouse or partner and to take Handout 5, Couple Covenant Worksheet, out of their folders. Review the handout and provide instructions for its completion using these or similar words:
You and your partner will work together on the first part of the worksheet. Spend a few minutes recalling the words and spirit of any covenants that you have made together about the meaning and content of your relationship. These can include marriage vows or other solemn rituals and promises. (If you and your partner have not made a covenant or anything like it, you can begin to talk about what you might like the content of a future covenant to be.)
In the second part, you and your partner will work separately. Complete the statements about your individual, personal intentions, not what you expect from your partner. Consider not only intentions themselves, but also the underlying actions that can support these intentions.
Next, you and your partner will share your individual intentions with one another. In response, you will write about how you can help your partner fulfill his/her intentions in the coming weeks.
Finally, you and your partner will work together to brainstorm some ideas for a covenant of intention, one you might affirm together by the end of the Principled Commitment program.
Allow approximately five minutes for each section of the worksheet, signaling when it is time to move on to the next section. Couples may feel rushed. If they do, explain that the worksheets can be continued at home and that covenant work will continue in future workshops.
Pay particular attention to participants who have difficulty with or are unable to complete this exercise. Sometimes the struggle may be a matter of time limits or life pressures. In other cases, resistance to this activity may indicate a more complicated relational dynamic that is beyond the scope of this program. If that is the case, the dynamic may become more apparent as the program progresses. Be prepared to supportively guide couples in need of therapeutic intervention to the congregation's minister or a therapist outside the workshop. Remember that any couple attending the class is expressing care for their relationship.
At the conclusion of the worksheet exercise, reunite the large group for a few minutes of discussion. Ask:
- How did it feel to work on this activity?
- How many of us typically find time in our relationship to discuss intention? In what ways can this type of discussion be incorporated into our regular lives as couples?
- Would any couple like to share some of the words they wrote - intentions or covenant?
Encourage participants to keep their worksheets for future reference.